Most work trips go smooth. This one . . . didn’t. Suffice to say, I was happier than usual to roll out of there Friday afternoon, about 48 hours later than I expected to. Speaking of “there”, this is where I was:
These guys build lighting systems that are used in movies. There were framed posters all over the building, all of movies that have bought their stuff. We are talking all the heavy hitters — the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Matrix, the list goes on and on . . . they ship to locations worldwide too. I would have liked to talk to them a bit more about what they do, but I was too busy trying to keep the bulk of the shit out of the fan. In the end I prevailed, but it wasn’t too fun.
Right next door to their facility was a big building, Soundstage One or something like that. As I rolled out of the place I was working at the end of the day, I could hear through the open dock door a band commencing to rock. I wandered over; it was a kind of awful pop punk/alt rock thing, with the whiny, meandering vocals that I loathe. This hipster dude in black came strolling outside past the stacks of roadcases. I asked him, “Who is that playing.” “The White Tie Affair,” he said. Then smirked, “How could you not know?” and laughed. I thought it was funny too. I asked if they were rehearsing for tour, and he said yeah. Judging from their MySpace page, they were kicking off their tour about the time I was headed out of town.
That evening, as I was trying to decide what to do, my phone rang. It was Lenny, guitarist from the mighty English band ASOMVEL. I had given him my number, as he and his family were on vacation in LA, and he and I had become friends via messages back and forth online. Over the phone he gushed over how he and his wife and son had run into Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, previously of MOTORHEAD, earlier that day while shopping for cowboy boots, and had gotten their picture taken. We agreed to meet up later at the infamous Rainbow Bar and Grill in West Hollywood, on the Sunset Strip, where Lemmy himself hangs out regularly. Here is a picture of Lenny in action:
I hit the strip early, and did some wandering. As offensive as all the commercial BS is in Hollywood, it is still less loathesome to me than Vegas (that turd-looking movie “Race to Witch Mountain” was being pimped everywhere; I can’t imagine that is marketing money particularly well spent). At least some decent art and music has flourished here, which really can’t be said about Vegas. It doesn’t feel particularly rock and roll anymore; hell, the black-clad-in-tight-pants crowd smoking out in front of The Viper Room would not have looked out of place at the Badlander in Missoula, for crissakes.
I browsed through The Hustler Store, of course. It was pretty lame, like a Spencer’s with a big porn section. I had a copy of “Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?” in my hand, but didn’t buy it — it was something like $40! The blockbuster, 4-disc edition of the big budget pirate porn movie was like $70! Who can afford these prices?!
I found the entire experience rather deflating, so I ventured into a realm more to my sensibilities — Book Soup bookstore! This was one of those old, crammed-to-the-rafters stores that I love. I spent 45 minutes in there, easily, and could have lasted longer if I hadn’t had plans to go meet up with Lenny and his family. Amazingly, I didn’t buy anything . . . mainly because I didn’t want to have to lug it around. But there were some great offerings; I particularly enjoyed the coffee table books about the various music scenes that have sprung up out of Laurel Canyon and the Strip, as well as just some photo essays and things on the Strip itself. Maybe next time!
I took a couple other shots of a couple Sunset Strip landmarks; growing up in the 80s, these places were the clubs that so many of the bands I listened to staggered out of. The first time I drove through here, which has been several years ago now, it was pretty mindblowing. I still like passing through, even if it is just a shadow of what it used to be.
I hit The Rainbow and had a couple Sierra Nevadas. Lemmy Kilmister never showed, but Lenny and his family did. What a great evening, talking music, life in the US vs. England, more music, and just other stuff. I don’t often get to socialize when I travel, and this was a wonderful change. What was great about Lenny and his 21yo son is they both looked like they stepped right out of the cover of Ace of Spades. I loved it! And I also loved hearing his wife (I feel like a wanker for not remembering her name now) gush over the awesomeness of the mighty Dee Snider and Twisted Sister. I don’t get to engage in a conversation like that every day!
These are guys that wear their metal allegiance on their sleeves, and it made me feel like a betrayor of the faith in my rumpled shorts and worn-out t-shirt. What a shlump I’ve been lately — I didn’t really realize it until I saw this awful, clothes-worn-too-many-days-in-a-row, beard-long-untrimmed photo after our three hours of bullshitting. Lenny looks positively mad, and he is, but he’s a hell of a guy (and his family were wonderful too!).
I like how Mr. Kilmister himself is looking over us in the background. That’s awesome. Lenny offered their flat as a crashpad and his band’s gear for a backline for a future UK tour, and I am going to do my best to make that happen in 2010!
Who Goes to California and Doesn’t Visit the Ocean?
Not me, that’s for sure. My last night there I drove out to Malibu. I love the ocean. I never get sick of visiting it. I can’t wait to make it back.